Saturday, January 21, 2017


Was pleased to host a visit by a band of 13 local model railroaders headed by the infamous Lt. Steve Moyland (ret.), benevolent dictator of the HO Oak Valley Model Railroad crew in Deptford. They also let me tag along on a full day of visits to other local model railroads. (Unfortunately all HO since the group has deficits in eyesight and small motor skills. (Just kidding :-) )).

First stop: Bob Ainsworth: What stood out to me, on his Oak Valley & Western, was the many industries that had 3 dimensional signs (fuzzy teddy bears, toy blocks, etc. - nice touches).

Next we visited Paul More. What I enjoyed the most was that most of his scratch built structures had memorable personal stories attached to them (his granddad's gas station, etc.). (He also had a nice collection of antique cars and gas pumps.)

Next we stopped to see Chris Schulte's Reading RR layout and his beautiful street and catenary work.

After a visit to my PRSL layout (and you have certainly seen enough pictures of that!) we created a disturbance at a local restaurant and learned the steps needed to buy a 100' hot air balloon (Steve again). Then we visited an open house of the Delaware & Susquehanna Model Railroad Club. Beautiful structure work and impressive electrical displays.

A fun day! Thanks Steve!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Overdue Projects

I finally got around to some overdue work in the Camden area trackage:

  1. Lengthened the arrival lead (now holds 9 cars instead of 4).
  2. Added an engine escape turnout between the yard leads (also effectively lengthens the yard leads).
  3. Added a pair of turnouts to enable a 4th staging track to be located behind the viaduct (holds 23 tankers and enables us to add another turn (2 trains) to the operating schedule).

Next up I need to:

  1. Replace a Peco Electrofrog turnout that thinks it’s an Insulfrog in the other 3 track staging area (getting tired of dispatching 2 trains concurrently instead of 1 at a time) and 
  2. Wire the extended yard lead

Monday, December 19, 2016

N Scale Magazine Jan-Feb 2017

My third and final series article was published in the Jan-Feb 2017 issue of N Scale Magazine. Hopefully this will help those attempting to set up prototypical group (or individual) operations on their layouts.

They also graciously gave me the honor of the cover shot  (3 billion photo attempts later) for the magazine. I think I had reached the limits of my 10 year old, 8 magapixel, Canon PowerShot A590. The trick is to get as small an aperture (and lots of daylight lighting) as possible to maximize the area in focus. An amateur/professional friend made a valiant but failed effort to help with his high end equipment. 

Shooting a model railroad is a distinct talent with different rules to the game. My A590 was limited to an f stop of 8. I borrowed my daughter's 12 megapixel DSLR, f stop 20 (which in reality is not a big improvement over the point and shoot's f8), and managed to get better results. I submitted what I though was the winner but they chose a different shot from one of the last photo shoots. (They are not color-blind, but I am!)

The real laugh is my layout attempts to faithfully model Westville, Woodbury, and part of Brooklawn. They chose to use a shot of Camden which is not faithfully modeled. Such is life.

The Russians are Back! 
The bulk of the recent views (183) of my blog have come from Russia. I hope Mr. Putin is enjoying the photos!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Philly Transfer Has New Power

Here is the latest edition (from the Chris Broughton Locomotive Works) to my PRSL layout. A Baldwin center-cab RT-624 arriving in Camden with the Philly transfer. A movie clip, shared (2013) by someone on the PRSL Historical Society, showed a center cab in Camden. I am assuming that was a Baldwin RT624. I traded Chris some brass cabins for this and transforming some old Model Power P70s closer to what the PRSL uses.

The RT624 is a Shapeways body on an Atlas Alco C630 chassis.

A Baldwin S12 hustles out to meet the Philly transfer headed by a Baldwin RT624

The P70s were originally cheap Model Power models. Chris added steps, replaced the 6 axle trucks with 4 axle ones, repainted, and lettered for PRSL. The decals are not as elongated as the prototype but were still an improvement. He did 3 coaches and a PBM (Passneger-Baggage-Mail). No PBMs existed on the PRSL so we numbered it with the open number (9937) between the coach and combine numbers.
PRSL P70s discharging their passengers in Woodbury

Monday, November 28, 2016

Yet Another Trip Down Memory Lane

While browsing my email I spotted a sidebar ad that caught my eye and immediately transferred me back to the 1950s. I recognized the cover of a 1950 Bantam Book put out by the staff of Lionel.

I immediately ordered the paperback and when it arrived I was vividly thrust back to images of model railroading in my youth! Each page seemed electric and alive. This was the book where I learned the basics of railroading (and why the C&NW was the only left hand running railroad [designed by British engineers]), basic construction, and constructing buildings from discarded shoe boxes.

My wife asked why I never kept the original paperback? I had to explain it was reduced to a pile of separate pages crumbling from drool and overuse.

It also contained my all time favorite track plan (definitely required Lionel's magna-traction engines to work):

Inspiration Month - November 2016

November is NMRA's Model Railroad Open House Month and a great chance to be wowed by what other model railroaders have accomplished. I put together a tour for a couple of friends who are relatively new to the hobby and visited some of my favorite layouts.

We started with the outstanding Claemont, Lewiston, and Western HO railroad by John Rahenkamp. He is a real pleasure to chat with (in spite of his ranking N Scale just above Brio trains).

We also visited HO layouts by Mike McNamara's (Northeast Kingdom Railroad),Chris Conaway, and Mert Gardner.

The highlight of the day was visiting with Konrad Richter and enjoying his outstanding N Scale layout (which include's Rick Spano's prototype operating coal dumper).

Thursday, October 20, 2016


It has been said you can never have enough staging. No truer words were ever spoken if you have operating sessions.

I started a never ending project to increase my staging in order to lengthen my coal drag, tank sweeper, and now the new Millville sand hog. It would have been nice to be able to add 2 more tracks but I can only do that by making it impossible for operators to get to Westville from Woodbury (getting past the narrowest point in the aisle). So I did the next best thing and lengthened the 3 existing staging tracks to squeeze in another 21 car capacity.

Sounds simple doesn't it? Well I did it but it required an S curve of about 5" radius. Ordered some more track rerailers and track bumpers. When they came in I suddenly realized I could dump cars off the layout on the under-layout side in the extended portion. So I cut (and painted) some thin wood to solve that problem but then had to screw them in through a tangle of under-layout track wires.

Even though the sharp radius didn't add inter-track car swiping I failed to test the closest track and found that 50' cars were swiping the corner of the aisle side track guards (1x4). Out came a jigsaw to remedy the problem and once I rerailed about every car on the 3 tracks of staging everything is now copacetic.

I found an area to add a staging track on the other end of the line. It will be a difficult (inaccessible) install. But it needs to wait for a new last minute project. I got an offer to do a magazine cover shot IF I could improve on the quality of a few shots I submitted. Unfortunately I may have reached the limits of what I can do with my 8 meg point and shoot camera so I enlisted a friend, who although an amateur photographer, has a good SLR and a lot of lenses. He has never taken model train pictures before so I am waiting with bated breath to see the results. (He must have taken 200-300 shots!) Stay tuned!

Friday, October 14, 2016

N Scale Magazine - The PRSL - the Millville & Penns Grove Branches

My second article (in a series of 3) was published in the Nov/Dec issue of N Scale Magazine.

This article covers my home layout and it's attempt to cover the section of the Pennsylvania - Reading Seashore Lines from Camden to Woodbury and its off-layout extensions to both Millville/Vineland and Penns Grove/Deepwater.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Birthday Vacation - Sight & Sound Theater and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Since I was passing into my next decade of life, my wife and I took a birthday trip out to Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster to see the Sampson production. And since it was my birthday, I got a major say on the trip itinerary:
.          Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (PRR T-shirt),
.          Strasburg Railroad,
.          3 railroad gift stores, 
.          and a hobby shop (X-Acto blades)!

We will start with the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum, one of my favorite places.

Tons of engines:

Some rusting away in the yard:

N5C Cabin 477947:

Found out the Reading had 2 round end observation cars and that they ran their premier passenger train with one on each end so the train did not need to be turned at the terminal:

They also had 2 great model railroads and I got to have a friendly chat with Bill, one of the model railroad volunteers:

Moving to the Strasburg Railroad: They were running a 2-10-0 decapod they got from the Great Western RR in Colorado: